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September 16, 2017

Power in Prayer

This week I learned a lesson that will not easily be forgotten. I'm not sure if I already told all of you that Bryan Borst got baptized on saturday by Elder Layton and then yesterday I had the special opportunity to confirm him. Now, whenever I have given blessings or anything of the sort in the past I have always prayed to be given the words to speak during the blessing and I feel like the spirit has always been there to help my thoughts and words run together beautifully. But saturday night my stomach was bothering me pretty bad and that was all I was able to focus on before I went to bed, so when it came time to say a prayer before I went to bed I made it rather quick and forgot to mention the help I would need the next day to give that blessing to Bryan. The same thing happened the next morning as my stomach was still hurting and I was too selfish to really think about what would be going on later that day. I'm sad to say that I didn't truly realize what I was going to be doing until they announced it in sacrament meeting. At that point it was too late to offer much of a prayer, but I still said a prayer in my heart that even though I neglected the responsibility that I had to prepare through prayer and study, that I would still have the words given to me that I needed to speak. I then confirmed him and blessed him and I did feel that throughout the blessing my thoughts were very jumbled but I still felt the Spirit tell me something like this: "don't worry, I can still work through you to get my message across." This was a special time to me where I felt the atonement of Jesus Christ lift me above my previous selfish behavior. Even though it was a minor wrongdoing which some may say wasn't a wrongdoing at all, I felt as though Christ himself was teaching me the importance of never looking inward even when things hurt and He also taught me that there is power in prayer and that through speaking with my Heavenly Father I could have been more prepared for that sacred blessing. Now, that same day, I gained a testimony yet again of how aware God is of us and our feelings. After Church I talked with my companion about how he prepares for blessings and how he recognizes the spirit as he is giving them. He gave me some advice and then in my own mind I thought "well how will I be able to tell when my blessings are given strictly by the spirit and not my thoughts?" Literally 2 minutes later we ran into a member who was struggling in their life and they asked Elder Layton to give them a blessing. After that blessing I realized that I wanted to prepare now, and everyday, for the next blessing I would give. That night we stopped by a Less Active member who we felt we needed to offer a blessing to. She asked if I could act as voice and so I did and I felt as if the windows of heaven opened up and shouted at me words that I should speak. I have no doubt that this was Heavenly Fathers way of telling me that all I need to do is have faith and simply expect the spirit to tell me what to say as long as I am worthy. I recognized that God loves each one of us and He gives freely opportunities to grow if we search for them. Often times the hardest part of growth is just asking for those opportunities. 

Something else that I realized this week was simply that Satan is trying so hard right now to tear everyone apart. I have never seen so many broken homes and broken families as I have in the last month. I feel like every other house we go to I end up walking out and saying "holy cow, there is so much that is missing and broken in that family, how does that happen?" I have grown to love random people that we run into so much more as I have come to realize that any bad or dark situation they are in is only because they fell into something satan threw their way and now it is my calling to bring them a solution to any and all problems as long as they are willing.  Please don't let Satan get you down or tell you that you aren't worth it. One of his biggest lies is that we, in some way, aren't worth anyone's time, especially God's. Stay strong and recognize that YOU are God's child and He Loves You. 

Well, that's all I got. If it doesn't make sense.... sorry. 

Love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff


Sushi and Sin

So, this week was pretty great! Just don't ask me why because i can never remember which stuff i did this week and which stuff i did last week... But one thing i know happened this week was we had a dinner yesterday with the relief society president in our ward and we met her at a restaurant which turned out to be a sushi restaurant!! Well I've only had sushi like twice in my life and it was just a taste i didn't think i liked; so when we got there last night and i saw that it was sushi i figured maybe its not as bad when its made the "right way" (whatever that means), and so i told sister Clancy that i hadn't really had much sushi but i was willing to go for it. She then proceeded to order a massive amount for the 3 of us and i knew after the first bite it was going to be a rough meal to force down. Now here is where the biggest problem came in--she is a super nice lady so she asked me after like two pieces if i was okay with the spice that was on it and if i liked the sushi in general. So I probably shoulda said "you know, i'm not the biggest fan." But of course i didn't say that because i'm a man and i have pride and "i can put it down, i know i can." So i continued to eat and force this stuff down while maintaining a joyful countenance, a quiet laugh/gag, and because we loved it so much she ordered some more against our will. We ate that too and then left and i couldn't stop thinking of that awful taste the rest of the night. So the reason i included this in my email is because as i was thinking about it i saw a relation to our spiritual lives. Often times we make small mistakes in our life that lead us to never want to do it again because of the awful feeling or taste we had... until our friend invites us to try it out again and tells us its super fun/good. At this point we have to make one of the most important decisions to say no right from the first before we even start. Now the reason its so important to say no right away is because if we don't, then we have to go through the humiliation of saying no after we have already said yes or we have to keep on sinning or making the same mistake until we feel that awful sense of regret from letting our pride get the best of us. I don't have any more time to explain but my hope is really that none of us will ever let others talk us into doing those things that we know are wrong!! 

Okay, I gotta go, hopefully it made sense at least a little... bye!

Love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff

August 29, 2017

A Week of Miracles

So, let me give you a little rundown of some of what happened this week and then I'll talk about a few of the things.

Monday: Mission wide P-day and watching the Eclipse.
Wednesday: Zone Conference
Friday: Went to a youth conference to bare testimony.
Saturday: Had a lesson at the temple with the Savages and the Borsts. 
Sunday: Some random guy standing outside the church building came in with us to sacrament meeting when we invited him. 


Okay, so the first one I wanted to talk about is Zone Conference. one of the things that stood out to me the most was a quote that was shared which was, "are you just trying to fill your day with activities? Or are you trying to fulfill your day with activities?" I thought this was so neat mostly because I feel like we so often try to just get our day packed enough that we look busy and no one will tell us how to do better. I have definitely done that a lot on my mission, but this quote struck me in the fact that if we are not planning out days and activities in order to fulfill, then our day really isn't being used for what God intended. He didn't give us time just to waste it. My own opinion is that He gave us time in order for us to be able to measure our obedience. Time makes it possible to say, "I'll just do that later" but God has asked us to keep His commandments now and if we do then we will be blessed. 

Next, on Friday afternoon we got a call from president Savage and He asked us if we could switch our appointments around that night in order to be at a youth conference 45 minutes away at 8. We said we would and asked why we were needed. President said he needed us to bare testimony to the youth and help them also see what missions are about a little bit. There ended up not being enough time for both of us, but Elder Layton bore powerful testimony and it was so cool being able to just sit there and see the youth and feel the powerful spirit that they bare even in the midst of trials and afflictions in their lives. 

On saturday we had a lesson at the denver temple with the Borsts. They are a younger couple and she is a member but he is not. The borsts actually gave us a ride to the temple and on the way there they told us that Bryan (the husband) wants to be baptized on the 9th of next month!!!! Needless to say, we were extremely stoked! Especially because we were planning on inviting him to be baptized in the lesson but he came out and just told us before we even got out of the car. We then had a super spiritual lesson with the Savages present as well as two of their daughters. Bryan was one of the last people we would've guessed to want to be baptized when I first got here, but now he is on fire and he comes to church out of his own desire! Its so cool to see the way the gospel changes people, even marriage issues often become much less of an issue as people choose to live the principles of the gospel out of their own desire.

And then sunday was super cool too, we were walking into church and saw a guy just off standing by the curb so we went over and talked to him and invited him in to church and he said that's actually what he was hoping to do because he was baptized 20 years prior and hadn't been to church in 15 years. He sat with us during sacrament and said that he wants to get back into the habit of going to church every sunday. He wasn't able to stay after sacrament meeting but he did love that part. I just think its so cool to see the Lord work His miracles in our lives as long as we are faithful enough to receive them. 

Well, thats all i got for this week. have fun out there! 

Love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff

Give Me This Mountain

Hey, so this last week has been fun!! Let me give you a rundown of some of the miracles within my area this week. 

Menga- Menga is someone we found not too long ago and he is on fire! Let me give you an example of how great this guy is. One of our last lessons we had was about the plan of salvation and we talked about how important church is as well. Immediately after the lesson as we were walking back to the bus stop with him, he told Elder Layton and I that he needs to get Sundays off at work so that he can go to church with us. We did not need to ask him to stop working at that workplace or talk to his boss, he simply felt the spirit testify to him that the importance of church is real and it will bless his life. As Missionaries we are the vessel which carries the message but if the spirit is not able to testify because our attitudes don't let him then our message will simply be lost in the cracks of life and forgotten, as missionaries AND latter-day saints we must do all that we can to be worthy of the spirit and his testimony at all times so that when the time comes for us to share whats so precious to us with others then the spirit and his Holy presence will be welcomed and enjoyed by us and those we are talking to. 

Bryan Borst- Bryan is the husband of a returning less active in our ward and we (the missionaries) have been teaching him and her for the last few months, but Gods timing isn't always the same as ours... actually hardly ever is His timing the same... I'm sure that the missionaries have been doing all they possibly could to help Bryan understand the message they were sharing but he just wasn't ever very attentive during the lessons. I experienced this lack of motive on his part the first time i taught them, but in the last week we have talked with them or taught them probably 3-4 times and every single time Bryan has been very awake and alert as well as asking questions which is a massive change for him. The reason i have shared this is because he was the last person when i came here that i would've seen getting baptized any time soon, but now he has gone to church the last two weeks without complaint and he has been asking us lots of questions about what comes with baptism and what he would need to do to prepare. The Lord certainly does work in mysterious ways and He works this way for our good, sometimes i think He chooses to work this way just to show us that He is in charge and He can truly make a way for us to accomplish whatever it is that He would have us do! 

The theme for our mission this year is "give me this mountain". It comes from something Caleb said in  Joshua 14:12 after like 45 years of waiting to gain the land of inheritance that God promised him and his people long ago, but along with gaining this "promised land" there came the task of overthrowing the so called giants that are living there and this is why Caleb says "give me this mountain." He's ready. He says in the verse prior that he's just as strong now as he was 45 years ago and he is ready to take what's his. He's ready to see the hand of God do what God said it would do which is to help them take over their land.  God will work miracles in our lives but we have to be willing to believe and give it all we got. This is no time to relax. Being a missionary you are able to see even more the rapid change in the world and the wickedness thereof. It is not a pretty sight. Even within months i feel like more people have chosen not to believe in God because of things that have happened in their life and they no longer think God cares. This is not the case brothers and sisters! GOD CARES! God cares about each of you. God cares about Jennifer Isaacs whose grandmother died last week and she was able to come to church with us and feel at peace. God cares about my companion who's had more family problems than anyone, yet he stayed out here on his mission and saw the hand of God reach out and bless his family back in canada. God cares about Menga who probably won't see his family for another 3 years because of visa problems but God sent us to tell him that he will be with his family far beyond this life as well and so these 3 years seem just a little shorter to him and he has felt comfort and peace beyond what he thought was possible all because he was open to the comfort of the Holy Ghost. So I hope and pray that none of you ever even have to wonder if God cares about your personal trials and your personal life, because He does. God loves all His children. Never take for granted the things that God gives us in such abundance that its easy to forget and not notice them. If you don't know what i'm talking about then please go watch the mormon message "Earthly father, Heavenly Father". 

I hope you all have a wonderful week and remember how much God has given you and how much He intends to still give you in the future as long as we will remain true to Him and faithful to His commands. 

Love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff

Hello

Hey hows it goin? 
Well let me tell you about my week! I don't think I have ever worked so hard on my mission physically. We have been trying to use our time wisely and so whenever we don't have anything going on we just park the car and walk where we need to go and usually we do that from about 12:30 till dinner at 6. It definitely feels good to know that we aren't wasting time in the car, but the coolest part is that often times when we take that step to show the Lord that we are ready to work He starts placing people in our path (literally) that have been prepared to at least hear a few words concerning their spiritual well being. I have loved talking to random people about whatever and then seeing it start to tie into the gospel as we testify and then pretty soon we are teaching the first lesson. God truly qualifies who He calls but we have to still be willing to go to the training camp so that He can qualify us. Our position as saints in the latter-days is not one of relaxation. Do you think a pro boxer became qualified by sitting on his couch eating chips and watching tv? No, he had to go to the gym and train harder then ever in order to qualify for match after match. The same is true for us. We must workout our spiritual strength harder than ever every single day in order to qualify for the match against satan tomorrow. The other thought I had as I was thinking about these daily battles was that winning does not mean we don't get hurt. Satan will get us down on ourselves sometimes by the hurt that he inflicts upon us, but the true battle is found within ourselves in the choice to get back up or not. So the question I now ask myself when i feel like my feet hurt too much to keep walking or when I feel like it would be easier to just drive around to random places is this, "Am I going to be the guy that backs down in the championship fight because the other guy looks tough?" 
      Another great lesson I learned this week is the necessity for fun in our lives. We have got to make sure that we don't let ourselves get so overwhelmed by the stress in the world that we forget to have fun. Fun is what keeps us going. Fun is always what we look forward to so why not have it all the time? Now don't get me wrong-- there is a time and a place to goof off and laugh, but that's not the only way to have fun. Some of my funnest memories from the last while are the meetings that I have been in because the leaders have been so good at making it fun while also inviting and cherishing the spirit. 
        Well there's a little bit from my week! I'm lovin it!
Thanks for all the support!
Love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff

What A Week

Well, this week was very eventful. I didn't realize how much running around helping other missionaries we would have to do as Zone Leaders. There's gas receipts to collect, GPS's to take to new Elders and Sisters, meetings to attend, luggage to move around. It was just all sorts of fun that first couple days. But the up side is that when there's so much stuff like that to do it makes me that much more anxious to get out and get to work finding God's children who need us and Him in their lives. It has been a great few days with Elder Layton though. We get along super well and we both have a desire to get out and work super hard! Elder Layton is from Vancouver Canada and he is wrapping up his mission with this transfer. He is one of the strongest missionaries I have met. He lost his Dad very early on in his mission and he has watched many other trials and tribulations come upon his family as he has been out here serving the Lord and he will still bear witness that serving the Lord has brought an abundance of blessings to his family and loved ones. I don't know how he stays so strong and concentrated with so many spiritual storms coming his way. I am truly excited (if that's the right word) to observe his example and hopefully obtain even a sliver of that attribute which he has and uses. 
    Something I studied this week was the different blessings that come from Baptism, Church attendance, scripture study, and many other gospel related actions that we can take. One of the biggest blessings that i have found that is common between all righteous action is the blessing of joy, but the thing that stinks is that joy is not always temporal happiness. Joy often comes through a change of mindset and a change of heart which is always better than a change of circumstances because circumstances although pleasing at the first can become old and stale, whereas a joyful mindset and a joyful heart can guide us and lead us through the most troublesome and the most wonderful circumstances without ever becoming old and unpleasing. This joy that i have mentioned only comes through growing closer to the Savior Jesus Christ, and we find that within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints there is a never ending ability to grow closer to the Savior. There are no dead ends and there are no breaks. We can truly become closer to Christ continually when our hearts and minds are set upon it. 

Well, that's all I've got for this week! Don't forget to grow closer to your brother Jesus Christ continually. 

Love you all!!
Love, Elder Cluff

Full Time Missionary = Full Time Service

So this week was pretty great not gonna lie. We got to talk to some super cool people and we were able to do lots of service on saturday which is mainly what i wanted to talk about. So we were out knocking on a few doors the other day after an appointment fell through and one guy answered, Luke, and said he wasn't interested so we asked him if we could help them with any physical service or anything and he said no, so we wished him a good day and moved on. But 4 or 5 doors down we found someone who was very interested and then as we were walking away from her door we heard someone shout out at us so we turned around and it was Luke, so we asked him what he needed and he said he just didn't want to swallow his pride and ask for help at first but he really does need it. He then continued to ask us if we had any knowledge in construction and if we could help him replace some boards on his deck. I told him i knew enough to replace some boards and we told him we could come back saturday in better clothes and get it done. Well we went back on saturday and found out that Luke has been having really bad vertigo for the past 2 years off and on and so that's why they really needed the help. It was a humbling experience to see someone who was so willing to do the work but was unable to because of unpreventable circumstances, and then to be able to use our own willingness and abilities to help him accomplish something so simple yet so out of reach for this family. Now their little 2 year old girl will not stub her toes because of the rotten boards or fall of the deck because of the missing railing. We also were able to help someone move on saturday as well as play basketball with an investigator whose sleep schedule was all messed up so that he would get worn out and go to sleep earlier so that he could wake up for church. I truly felt that the phrase "more used would i be" from the hymn book was coming true in my life that day. I have been trying so hard to do my part and now the Lord placed those in our path who could truly use a helping hand. This was a great week where i was able to learn the importance of doing all we can even when things are a little rough because just as i shared last month, it is often when things get the hardest that we get to the peak of the mountain and see the amazing view that God has made for us. And i feel like saturday was once again one of my simple mountain peaks that lifted my spirit and made me feel more used in the hands of the Lord. 

I know this was a simple and short email but I am definitely grateful for service and the blessings that come from it! 
I am excited for this next transfer and it will be interesting to be serving in denver. Ill let you know more about it next week. 
I love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff